Fructose is a type of sugar that is found in many foods and beverages, including sodas, candies, and processed foods. While it may taste sweet, it can have harmful effects on our bodies, especially when consumed in excess. Here's what you need to know about fructose:
Fructose does not raise insulin levels: Unlike other sugars, fructose does not cause our bodies to produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps regulate our blood sugar levels. This means that when we consume fructose, our bodies do not receive the signals that tell us to stop eating, and we may continue to feel hungry even after eating.
Fructose can lead to overeating: Since fructose does not trigger the production of hormones that make us feel full, such as leptin, we may end up eating more than we actually need. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Fructose can be stored as fat: When we consume fructose, our bodies process it in the liver, where it can be converted into fat. This can result in the accumulation of fat in the liver, which is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It can also cause fat to be stored in other parts of our bodies, such as our abdomen, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Fructose can increase inflammation: Fructose can cause our bodies to produce inflammatory molecules, which can lead to inflammation in various tissues and organs. This can contribute to the development of conditions such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and diabetes.
Fructose can interfere with blood sugar regulation: Fructose can affect our bodies' ability to regulate blood sugar levels by reducing the sensitivity of our muscles and liver to insulin, which is the hormone that helps our bodies use glucose for energy. This can lead to higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Fructose can cause oxidative damage: Fructose can increase the production of free oxygen radicals, which are molecules that can damage our tissues and cells. This can contribute to oxidative stress, which is linked to various health problems, including aging-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Fructose can contribute to the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs): Fructose is more likely than other sugars to form AGEs, which are compounds that can bind to proteins and fats in our bodies and cause chronic inflammation. AGEs have been associated with kidney damage, fibrosis, atherosclerosis, and other complications of diabetes.
Fructose is often added to processed foods: Fructose is commonly added to processed foods and beverages because it is inexpensive and can enhance the sweetness of these products. High fructose corn syrup, which is used in many sodas and processed foods, can contain varying amounts of fructose, ranging from 42 percent to 90 percent.
So while fructose may taste sweet, it can really harm our bodies. It can contribute to overeating, weight gain, liver disease, inflammation, blood sugar regulation problems, oxidative damage, and the formation of AGEs.